April 22, 2024


Like many Muscovites, I am spending this summer in Dhaka. In 2022, there are many more people vacationing in our village than in previous years, which is located near the former Obiralovka interchange, where Leo Tolstoy threw Anna Karenina under a train (women leave bouquets on the memorial plaque at the station , thinking that Anna was a real victim of unrequited love and not a fictional character). One reason there are more people is the growth of the Internet. Many continue to work remotely, which they started doing during the pandemic. After all, almost everyone who usually vacations abroad is spending the summer of 2022 in Russia because of international sanctions.

The “special operation” in Ukraine that began on February 24 has fundamentally changed the lives of many Russians, especially members of the middle class, intellectuals and people who were politically active.

As Western sanctions were imposed against Russia, almost all major international companies and their subsidiaries left the country, leaving thousands of specialists out of work. Russian scholars, doctors, musicians and athletes are expelled from international associations and universities and barred from concerts and competitions, while at the same time Russian colleges and educational institutions have ended international cooperation and student exchange programs. An Iron Curtain suddenly fell from both sides. New laws and regulations made political debate in public almost impossible, and almost all independent media were closed or decided to close.

The list of “foreign agents” is regularly updated with new names of journalists and human rights activists—a process aided by complaints from “vigilant citizens,” a long-forgotten Soviet practice. According to data from human rights organizations, by mid-summer nearly 200 online and offline media outlets had been blocked, and more than 150 criminal cases and more than 200 administrative cases had been brought under the new fake news and discredit laws. army. . Dozens of rights activists, journalists and IT experts have fled the country, finding themselves in a difficult, even untenable, situation: Russian banks are under sanctions and cannot use their credit cards or transfer money from Russia. At the same time, people in small towns or poor regions, people who work for the state, people who have never been abroad or are interested in politics have not seen serious changes. Food prices have gone up, but not by much. Poor families and pensioners received small (but noticeable to them) government subsidies and other benefits. It must be said that throughout Russia, the most diverse sources of information, including blocked foreign resources, are available by simply obtaining a VPN (owning a virtual private network is free and not criminal – what is punished is the dissemination of critical information) . But not everyone is interested in alternative views.

In the spring, analysts Natalya Zabarevich and Yevgeny Gonmakher predicted that the “special operation” and sanctions would affect the middle class, the educated and pro-Western classes the most. The poor would remain poor and the rich and officials would continue in their privileged position. Political figure, founder of the Yabloko Party, Grigory Yavlinsky has warned of the dangers of the growing wealth gap. It is clear today that class differences are very important. Three layers of society live in different worlds, experiencing events in their own way.


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